Olufemi Atoyebi, Kamarudeen Ogundele, Mudiaga Affe, ’Femi Asu and Okechukwu Nnodim
The latest round of fuel scarcity might end in a few days’ time if the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation sustained the current level of supply of Premium Motor Spirit, major oil marketers and depot owners said on Wednesday.
“The NNPC has been giving us product and we have been distributing it; all what we are hoping for is that they should continue at the rate they are giving us,” the Executive Director, MOMAN, Mr. Obafemi Olawore, told our correspondent on the telephone on Wednesday.
Asked if there would be an end to the current fuel scarcity any time soon, he said, “It is gradual. If they keep giving us the product like this, the scarcity should end in a few days’ time.”
On Tuesday, the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association said its members did not have petrol in their tanks despite the recent announcement by the NNPC that it had started offloading products in depots across the country.
When contacted on Wednesday, the Executive Secretary, DAPPMA, Mr. Olufemi Adewole, said, “Two of our depots have received products now and they are loading. Unfortunately, one of them that was supposed to load was turned back. I don’t know why; I am still trying to investigate. But two of them have received product and they are loading.
“We are loading and we are going to keep loading. Our members have promised to do 24 hours until the queues disappear, provided they get the product.”
A top official of a Lagos-based oil marketing company, who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, said a new vessel, named Captain Gregory, arrived in Apapa on Wednesday morning, laden with about 35 million metric tonnes of petrol.
“If supply can be consistent like this, things will get better and people should be able to celebrate New Year without fuel scarcity,” the source said.
Efforts to reach the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria were not successful.
The National Operations Controller, IPMAN, Mr. Mike Osatuyi, on Tuesday told one of our correspondents that members of the association could only get the product from the NNPC after making payments.
“We are not saying the NNPC does not have the product. But it has to get to where they can discharge it and load it to our members. You know there was no banking activity in the last four days, and our members pay before loading unlike majors that can get the product on credit. But I believe from tomorrow (Wednesday) when banks would resume, there will be more payments into the NNPC system and there will be more loading,” he had said.
Also on Wednesday, the NNPC attacked DAPPMA over a recent statement that its members had no petrol in their storage tanks despite claims by the national oil firm.
It also stated that DAPPMA members owed it the sum of N26.7bn for products received, adding that the statement credited to the association on the fuel supply situation, especially as regards petrol, was “very unfortunate.”
DAPPMA had stated on Tuesday that its members had no PMS, popularly called petrol, in their various depots and tanks despite claims by the NNPC that it had started loading products in depots across the country.
The Executive Secretary, DAPPMA, Adewole, had said, “While we cannot confirm or dispute NNPC’S claims of having sufficient product stock, we can confirm that the products are not in our tanks and as such, cannot be distributed. If the products are offshore, then surely, they cannot be considered to be available to Nigerians.”
But the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Ndu Ughamadu, in a statement on Wednesday, said the corporation had supplied appreciable volume of petrol to members of DAPPMA, MOMAN and IPMAN to solve the challenges being experienced in the supply and distribution of petroleum products across the country.
The oil firm said, “The NNPC regrets that DAPPMA, whose members had taken receipt of products from the Petroleum Products Marketing Company, a subsidiary of the NNPC, and owe the company to the tune of N26.7bn as of December 21, 2017, has the audacity to indict the NNPC unjustifiably.
“The statement by DAPPMA that the current hiccups in the supply of products were due to the inability of the Direct Sale Direct Purchase partners of the NNPC to deliver on their business obligations is unfounded and self-indicting as many of DAPPMA members patronise the same DSDP international counterparts as the corporation.”
The corporation stated that despite the concession by the Federal Government for DAPPMA to obtain foreign exchange at an official rate of N305 to one dollar for the PMS import, members of the association had not been able to do so, leaving the NNPC as the sole supplier of petrol to the Nigerian market.
“The NNPC assures the public that despite the increase it effected in the supply of the PMS in December 2017, it has nonetheless programmed to supply 1.2 billion litres of the white product in January 2018, translating to about 40 million litres of the PMS supply per day. Ordinarily, Nigeria consumes about 700 trucks (about 27 million to 30 million) litres per day,” the oil firm said.
It added that there was no plan to increase the pump price of petrol above N145/litre and that it would continue to maintain the ex-depot price of N133.28/litre, which would guarantee the pump price not exceeding the N145 as capped by the Federal Government.
“All stakeholders are implored to support the efforts of the government to bring a speedy end to the current fuel distribution challenges being experienced in parts of the country as this is not the time to play the blame game,” NNPC said.
This is coming as long queues of motorists persisted in Abuja and neighbouring states of Niger, Nasarawa and Kaduna on Wednesday.
Also, many petrol stations were shut on Wednesday, as fuel attendants at the outlets insisted that they had no product to dispense.
In Ekiti State, independent petroleum marketers reduced fuel price to below N200 per litre.
The development came on the second day of the sale of petrol in the Government’s House dump to the public.
Governor Ayodele Fayose had on Monday directed the sale of the fuel at the dump at the pump price of N145 per litre to members of the public to cushion the effect of the hardship of the fuel scarcity on them during Christmas.
One of our correspondents, who went round the state capital on Wednesday, observed that the sale of the government fuel was still ongoing at the Alade Filling Station, Iyin Ekiti Road.
The Phenrose Oil and Gas station in Irona was selling the product at N180 per litre to motorists, while the Nipco filling station at Adebayo Road and Akinbami filling station in Ureje sold it for N190 per litre.
This was against the price of N400 per litre it was sold for at the black market on Monday.
Also on Wednesday, the Department of Petroleum Resources in Cross River State shut down two fillings stations for selling petrol above the government approved price of N145 per litre.
This came just as independent marketers accused the DPR of failing to address why the product was sold by major depots to them at over N160 ex-depot price as against the government approved N133.28.
The state Controller of the DPR, Mr. Bassey Nkanga, who shut the filling stations during a surveillance in Calabar, said that the stations were violating the government directives.
Nkanga said that it was wrong for oil marketers to increase the pump price when the Federal Government had not done so.
An independent petroleum outlet, Uddy King, was shut for selling the product at N190 per litre, while Uko-Ma was sealed for selling at N205 per litre.
But a Calabar-based certified independent marketer, Mr. Justin Ugbe, said government had refused to address the main issue but had taken solace in shutting filling stations.
Ugbe, who is the Managing Director, Deweb Nigeria Limited, said the DPR was feigning ignorance by sealing filling stations without closing down the depots.
Similarly, the Oyo State joint task force of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and the DPR on Wednesday sealed five petrol stations in Ibadan for hoarding fuel.
A statement by the Public Relation Officer of the NSCDC, Oyo State Command, Oluwole Olusegun, said that the patrol team also forced a filling station to sell 2,000 litres of the product to the public after being found guilty of selling above the N145 official pump price.
The statement said, “The team sealed five fuel stations for hoarding the product and selling beyond the official pump price. Some of the fuel stations that were today (Wednesday) penalised are KB Petrol in Ashi area of Ibadan, Roylab Petrol in Akobo area, Jasfad Petrol Station also in Akobo and Swort Oil in Ashi area of the city.
“The Oyo State Commandant, John Adewoye, who led another team round the metropolis, said that illegality being perpetrated by the fuel marketers will no longer be tolerated and that anyone caught in the act will face the wrath of the law.”